Contemporary reviews of the work were not universally positive. Writing in the American New Republic magazine, George Soule expressed his disappointment in the book, writing that it "puzzled and saddened me. It seemed on the whole dull. The allegory turned out to be a creaking machine for saying in a clumsy way things that have been said better directly." Soule believed that the animals were not consistent enough with their real-world inspirations, and said, "It seems to me that the failure of this book (commercially it is already assured of tremendous success) arises from the fact that the satire deals not with something the author has experienced, but rather with stereotyped ideas about a country which he probably does not know very well".
The Guardian on 24 August 1945 called Animal Farm "a delightfully humorous and caustic satire on the rule of the many by the few". Tosco Fyvel, writing in Tribune on the same day, called the book "a gentle satire on a certain State and on the illusions of an age which may already be behind us." Julian Symons responded, on 7 September, "Should we not expect, in Tribune at least, acknowledgement of the fact that it is a satire not at all gentle upon a particular State—Soviet Russia? It seems to me that a reviewer should have the courage to identify Napoleon with Stalin, and Snowball with Trotsky, and express an opinion favourable or unfavourable to the author, upon a political ground. In a hundred years time perhaps, Animal Farm may be simply a fairy story, today it is a political satire with a good deal of point."
Animal Farm has been subject to much comment in the decades since these early remarks.